During the early days of Flickr, I didn’t take photos. It was a story. When Yahoo bought the company, I broke the story on my blog. It made news because the news was on a blog. Go figure. I made a mistake by hotlinking Caterina Fake’s photo. She Goatse-d me. I apologized. A friendship blossomed. Stewart Butterfield, the other Flickr co-founder, and the master of a pivot, now is the head honcho at Slack, where I am a nano-investor.
The world has moved on, but it wasn’t till this month, I started to appreciate the foresight and the specialness of Flickr, and it’s a foundational role in the history of the modern web. I am finding joy in it — and hopefully the new owner, SmugMug will be able to find ways to energize the community around it. They could start by bundling it with SmugMug Pro.
It’s shocking just how much Flickr missed out on the smartphone photo boom. Nobody used Flickr like they use Instagram or even Twitter for sharing photos now, and Yahoo just sort of let it languish. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe Flickr can be a fantastic smaller platform. There’s no reason it needs to compete with the biggest players so long as it can attract a great community.
I let my Flickr Pro membership lapse years ago because I wasn’t taking photos as much, so I didn’t want to pay for a photo sharing website. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been much more active with my camera, and Malik’s post has made me think harder about whether I want to buy Pro again. I still haven’t made my mind up, but it could be worth a year’s experiment to see if I really will use Flickr again.